THE TALE END
Kenny Irwin Jr. dreamed of turning his home into a museum from the very beginning. “My parents knew they had an artist on their hands because I drew with crayons on the walls of my room when I was really little,” he says.
Though his mediums have changed, the location hasn’t. Between November and New Year’s, more than 60,000 visitors tour the Movie Colony property where Irwin grew up and still resides to view his work. The expansive grounds, now known as Robolights, house holiday-themed curiosities such as a gingerbread alien, a pirate Santa, and, of course, lots and lots of robots.
• For more photos of Kenny Irwin's Robolights, click HERE.
The pieces are surreal, massive amalgamations of household items like lawn chairs, microwaves, and books, most of them recycled from donations. “I created my first larger-scale [piece] when I was about 9,” he shares. “Then I created a few more, and the neighbors started noticing. So stuff started showing up, a little bit at a time.”
Fueled by his fascination with “the beauty of our world” and curiosity about “all the other beauty that’s out there that transcends our solar system,” the artist has spent the past 32 years creating the sculptures — and battling the controversy. Despite fines and regulations imposed by the city, Robolights’ popularity continues to grow. A pair of superfans even got married beneath their favorite jumbo gingerbread man.
That’s the kind of bliss Irwin hopes to inspire with his work. “The driving force of why I create the art is the joy,” he says, “the immense joy I get out of seeing people get pleasure from it.”
“The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is absolutely off-the-charts awesome … I’ve hiked from the base of [San Jacinto] Mountain to the summit in a single day. It’s got five different climatic zones; to be able to walk through each one of those is an experience. Go with a group and take a couple gallons of water. Oh, and don’t wear new hiking boots. I made that mistake and got blisters on my ankles.”
Editor’s note: According to a recent press release from the city of Palm Springs, Robolights will take place at Irwin’s Movie Colony property for the 2018–19 holiday season but will move to a nonresidential location in November of 2019.